What a fun episode! It had everything – Dancing! Drama! Demi-pliés! And a surprise ending that anyone could have seen coming. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
But let’s get out our tights and leotards, fetch the balletomanes, light a candle at the altar of our favorite choreographer, and strap on our pointe shoes. Five, Six, Seven, Eight People!
* After the return to the work room, the girls are still reeling from Monica’s elimination. Vivienne is feeling slighted as she’s surrounded by loudmouths and attention whores (Roxxxy in particular). But no time for that now, as Ru enters with afros and makes the girls dance an old school Soul Train line (which made me think two things – 1) The late, great Don Cornelius would have LOVED this and would have laughed his ass off at some of the dance moves, and 2) If you’re going to do a Soul Train dance line, then play a classic track from that show like this one). While there were some scary white girl moves on that dance floor, Coco and Jinkx brought it to the dance floor. Naturally, they won.
* And then Ru reveals the main challenge, in two teams, they must create one of the two acts of the world premiere ballet No Rupologies: An American Oddesy (or as she calls it The Greatest Show On Earth). Jinkx and her team (Ivy, Lineysha, Alaska, and Jade) will handle Act One, while Coco and her troupe (Roxxxy, Detox, Vivienne, Honey, and – surprisingly – Alyssa) handle Act Two. While everyone was shocked – SHOCKED! – that Coco picked her arch-nemesis, there was a more mercenary reason; Alyssa is a trained dancer so this should be no problem for her.
* While the teams get to work on their ballets, each team gets to work with choreographers Nick Lazzarati and Travis Wall (who will also be one of the guest judges). And while it’s fun to see who can move (who knew Ivy had a decent fouré in her?) and who can’t (Alaska), I felt that it took the responsibility off of the queens in actually having to come up with the choreography. That said, it led to one of the most deliciously evil psych outs I’ve ever seen. As Jinkx’s team returns, Alyssa is leading Coco’s team through a ballet class and they’re nailing it. That’s the kind of shady move I can get behind!
* Runway time and Ru is joined by Michelle (who eerily looked like Cher), Santino, Travis, and Dancing with the Stars alum Chaz Bono (“Chaz Bono came out of Cher’s vagina!” as Alaska helpfully reminded us). While they glossed over the runway in lieu of the performance, I have included the screen grabs from the ballet. Let’s grab our opera glasses and watch.
ACT ONE (Jinkx’s Team)
Scene 1: Ernestine Charles gives birth to Baby Ru. Knowing that her dance moves weren’t the greatest, Alaska nailed this scene by giving a great character and playing the physical comedy up. And points for a great transformation. This look is radically different from her normal looks and she makes it work. While I wish Alaska was in the top three, she was declared safe.
Scene 2: Young Ru watches the Supremes and is inspired by Diana Ross. Jade wasn’t bad, and neither was Lineysha even though she had no bloody clue who Diana Ross is! (That should have sent her home right there.) Side note: I liked Jade’s “Little Red Riding Hood shops at Bebe” look on the runway.
Scene 3: Ru at 21 leaves for New York and tools around with gal pal Lady Bunny. One of the things I loved about this ballet on the whole was that it showed all of the sides of Ru, including her genderfuck years. Jinkx nailed it to a T! Ivy still needs more personality, but looked great as Bunny (which should be no surprise since Ivy has made costumes for Bunny over the years.) It’s easy to see why they were in the top three, but Jinkx did get a read/clue from Michelle and Ru; if Jinkx can show that she can do glamour, she could be a serious contender to win the whole thing.
ACT TWO (Coco’s Team)
Scene 4: In a classic good versus evil battle, Ru’s own struggles are interpreted by a white swan (Coco) and a black swan (Alyssa). Alyssa looked fantastic (but I thought her runway look was poor) and Coco looked great. But you could tell that Alyssa owned this challenge. As Travis said, she expressed everything using her whole body. And while it might be unfair to give the win to a professional dancer, you can’t deny that she brought it and deserved the win (but her move during Ru’s “Which Girl Should Go Home?” moment by saying Jade – who wasn’t even on the stage to defend herself – was a stank bitch move). And give credit to Coco as well who managed to keep up with her during the dance.
Scene 5: Flash forward to the 90s and Ru is now a “Supermodel” (of the world). And her dream comes true when she gets to work with her idol Diana Ross. Detox nailed the choreography and the Ru hair flip, but Honey was a mess as Miss Ross. It’s easy to see her in the bottom.
Scene 6: In the present day, Ru is gathering her legendary children to find America’s Next Drag Superstar. Roxxxy looks like Ru… from a decade ago! Plus, as Chaz astutely pointed out, there was none of Ru’s star power or personality on stage from Roxxxy (which would have covered up her leaden dancing). Vivienne talked a lot about showing her personality and bringing it to the stage, but in reality she was dull as dishwater. Both of them ended up in the bottom three.
In the end, Alyssa won, Roxxxy was spared the bottom (though her dress was doing her figure absolutely no favors), and Honey and Vivienne had to Lip Synch For Their Lives. And it was probably the worst lip synch battle I’ve seen on this show. The whole point of the Lip Sync For Your Life is to see what happens when the queens have their backs against the wall, and who will rise to the challenge spewing fierceness and fabulousity every which way (think Dida Ritz’s performance of “This Will Be” last season as a prime example). But both Vivienne and Honey were lifeless and boring respectively. I’m not asking for drop splits every five seconds, but I do want to see some energy, attitude, SOMETHING going on.
And apparently so does Ru. In a (not really) shocking move, both queens were told to Sashay Away! Because of the number of queens this season, a double elimination was more than likely going to happen. I’m glad that Ru deployed it for these two; not only did she get rid of two boring queens but it sent a shock over the rest of the survivors. “From here on out,” she proclaimed, “I WILL NOT tolerate no half-steppin’!”
Next Week: The other reason for the double elimination. It’s episode five, and you know what that means… It’s time for SNATCH GAME!!!
Originally published as part of my column “The Idiot Box” for l’etoile magazine on 19 February, 2013.